OPENING A RESTAURANT: how to choose a good name for your business

myaso i folklor

In the series of articles on “Opening a restaurant” I am considering for you some typical issues that any person who would like to launch his own business has to deal with.

My practical experience of turnkey startups is already 52 establishments in the sphere of restaurants, entertainment and services. That is why you can consider that I came across the questions like this not less than 52 times, and every time I managed to solve them better and better. So I am presenting not the “bumps”, but the “yield” of my experience.

So, a RESTAURANT NAME. Very often an establishment is “born” exactly from a name. It happens that after watching the movie “The Pirates of the Caribbean” the idea of a kind of a reckless establishment called “Corsair” appeared, a logo with a prototype of Jack Sparrow was drawn in the mind, the names of dishes like “The Tortuga Treasure” and “The Black Pearl”, the staff wearing pirates’ outfit and patches on one eye…

This way is wrong and very shallow initially. All the above mentioned is considered to be a restaurant business romance, it’s pleasant to deal with the questions like this, you feel as a creator or an artist. But there are some difficult practical problems as well. You will come to a restaurant name, logo and names of dishes on the third state of creating your restaurant. And meanwhile it is necessary to pave the way.

The tree main stages in a restaurant project preparation are the following – Target Audience, Location, Concept.

Everybody forgets that money and profit are going to be brought not by ambitions and self-fulfillment, but by Guests. Besides, those are going to be mainly not your friends, but absolutely unfamiliar people, who are the bulk of the market. Who are you making your restaurant for? Give the honest answer to yourself.

Target audience can be divided according to the number of criteria:

  • gender (men/women);
  • age (adults, teenagers, children);
  • social (schoolchildren, students, workers, businessmen, retired people);
  • financial (what is your average check supposed to be compared to other venues in the city: average, below average, above average?)
  • time of visits (different people can come at different time)

We can think of a lot of criteria and each of them will help to work out the image of your Guest in detail. As a result you will have the portrait of your Client, and that is a foundation for creating your Concept and searching a corresponding location.

Here is the example of the Target Audience of our café-confectionary «Lviv Strudel»:

Week days: active businessmen and the nearest offices’ employees, intellectuals, students

Week day evenings: young people aged 16-25, companies’ employees

Weekends: families and young people aged 16-25, going for a walk to the park

Weekend evenings: active clubbing youth, couples on dates

Check: average and below average (up to 2$)

After you have defined your Target Audience you need to choose an appropriate location. How to choose it – this is a whole big story which deserves a separate article. It happens quite often that Audience is formed for the existing specific place. It is also quite possible, but the question about your Guest – that’s the question which is always at the head. Don’t be carried away by the romance, think about your business.

So, having quickly looked through the first two stages of the restaurant project preparation we reached the question of the Concept. One of the defining elements of your future brand will be the Name.

That’s why we were talking about the Target Audience and Location. The Concept along with the name is supposed to be their logical follow ups.

There is a good saying: “A ship will sail the way you name it”. Some pithless names like “At Ivan’s”, “Tavern”, “Once upon a time” are disappointing for me and evoke an ironic smile.

It can be hard when the name is just a rebus which is clear only to the person who created it. For example, once I came across such a variant: lounge bar “Ataraxy”. It turned out that it is a philosophical notion and translated from Greek as “the state of peace of mind, serenity”, which emphasizes the lounge venue concept… But who knows about it in a dormitory area of a provincial town? I estimated the investor’s inner world but talked him out of this name.

The name is supposed to reveal your idea and the feature at once and make a consumer have an association list before visiting.

I would define the following criteria for choosing a name for an establishment:

  • originality (there must not be any similar or consonant names in the competitive environment)
  • creativity
  • brevity
  • simplicity
  • associativity
  • euphony
  • “internationality”
  • And the main thing is conceptuality. The name must reveal your concept with the help of one word or a phrase.

By “internationality” I mean that a perfect name must sound the same in different languages. For example, in Ukrainian, Russian and English. Just remembered: “Celentano”, “Aviator”, “Marmalade” and so on.

It would be perfect if this word were used in the group of languages close to us and had an identical spelling in Ukrainian and Russian: “Opera, “Caramel”, “Karabas Barabas”, «Shawar-Mama».

I came across some very creative names when a name in Russian was written in English letters. It looks great in many cases: “Gosti”, “РыбоLOVE”, “Zefir”.

The name must be multicultural as well, I mean, it’s not supposed to cause nuances in other languages. For example, the names of some foreign restaurants look terrible for us: “Panos“, “PizDaLec“, “X3”, “Herase” and so on.


How do we create names in our team? The process is rather creative, but it has its structure.

So, you take your concept as a basis, picture the type of your Guest and start making a list of words that could be typical in his everyday life if he discusses your concept with you.

Having selected several variants you can test them on your friends. Done? They will like it anyway! And now do it with unfamiliar people and look at their reaction. They will be more impartial and less flattering.

After that you should work on it with a graphic designer. Is it possible to make a brand book with a feature out of your name? And to select some simple schematic signs that will be associated with your venue? If the work is going well from the beginning – that’s a good sign. Something that was born in sufferings can fail to work.

By the way, something about sufferings. Here is a vivid example. We planned to open a retro-café with pelmeni, varenyky and chebureky. The Audience was supposed to be maximum broad – starting with students (there was a university nearby) up to adults of the Balzacian age having nostalgia. We analyzed that all that we make is flour products. And the name “Мукá” (Russian for “flour”) seemed quite good for us. But something went wrong from the very beginning of the reconstruction, and later somebody said: “That by no means is “Мукá” (flour), but a real “Мýка” (Russian for “suffering”)! Oops, we didn’t even think about that.

A new list of names was urgently made and the name “Buffet” was chosen.

кафе буфет

It may occur that a logo or some brand’s features are created first and then a name is made for it. It happened so with “Uncle Pizza” brand. We wanted to make a democratic family café mainly for children, but also to avoid turning it into a kindergarten or some kind of “itsy-bitsy”.

So a mythical character with a moustache came to our mind, a kind of an uncle, who likes cooking and playing with children. We took a hat and a moustache as a base for the logo and started thinking about a name for the uncle. We had various names in the project: Carlo, Lionia, Giovanni.

Finally we remembered that everything must be as simple as possible! First of all we are a pizzeria! So his name has to be Uncle Pizza! This is the way how the name for our chain, which has been working for more than 5 years, appeared!

дядя pizza

Do you have any creative names? Write comments and subscribe to the Youtube channel!

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